One distinct advantage
With Freeview PVRs, you can generally only record Freeview material. The DMR-EX83 has an advantage over its rivals though -- it can accept video via its Scart input too. This means that, if you have a Virgin or Sky box, it's easy for you to hook these machines up to the DMR-EX83 too. This might be a niche feature, especially considering that Virgin and Sky both have their own excellent recording products, but it will no doubt appeal to some users.
Store your music, photos and movies
If you have loads of music and photos, then you might be pleased to learn that the DMR-EX83 can play back JPEG, MP3 and WMA files, as well as DivX movies, via the SD-card slot and USB socket. You can even rip music directly from a CD, and the DMR-EX83 will look up track information from Gracenote too. If you want to make sure the Gracenote database is up-to-date, you'll need to make sure you download the updates via the Panasonic Web site -- the recorder has no Internet connectivity.
We love the DMR-EX83's picture quality. Images have a sharpness and accuracy that really inspire confidence in the machine. Indeed, hooked up to our plasma TV, we found images were more natural in terms of colour and slightly sharper than those produced by the telly's built-in tuner.
You can change the quality at which broadcasts are recorded but, please, for the love of technology, don't record at anything but the maximum quality. Freeview already looks like a dog's dinner at times, and degrading the quality further by dropping the detail setting would be a massive mistake.
The DVD portion of this machine can happily upscale video to 1080p, and, while we aren't entirely sold on the benefits of upscaling in DVD players, the DMR-EX83 certainly does a good job. The chances are, though, that your TV will have better scaling hardware than the DMR-EX83. That said, if your TV is quite old, or you prefer the way the DMR-EX83 upscales video, there's no reason why you shouldn't use this feature.
The Panasonic DMR-EX83 is a thoroughly decent machine. We do, however, think there's a limited audience for DVD-writing hardware. With hard drives being so cheap these days, we'd prefer this PVR to pack a 2TB drive, rather than a DVD writer/reader.
The DMR-EX83 isn't earth-shatteringly expensive, but it's costly enough to make us wonder if this is the best option for most homes. If you think it suits you, then go ahead and buy one, because the machine is lovely to use and its picture quality is among the best we've seen from a PVR. It is, however, being superseded both by Panasonic's own Blu-ray recorders with Freeview HD tuners, and, to some extent, products like Sky+HD.
Edited by Charles Kloet